This wasn't easy.
It turns out that my favorite Elvis Costello song does not appear on any of my 5 favorite Elvis Costello albums. I tossed around a few and even considered something stupidly obvious, but after thinking a bit longer on what it is I love about EC and The Attractions---the playing, first and foremost---I had to go with "Clubland."
"Clubland" came out of the box sounding like a Costello standard. If you had 10 of the greatest pop songwriters in a room and challenged them to write an Elvis Costello tune, I bet they'd all write a song resembling "Clubland."
To say Elvis Costello, Bruce Thomas, Steve Nieve and Pete Thomas hit a creative peak with "Clubland" seems ridiculous, since so much amazing music followed. "Trust," the 1981 record that features "Clubland" is uneven at best. Yet, the songs that do work, work wonders. Even Nick Lowe's production seems special on just this track. The album is co-produced with Roger Bechirian, so maybe he had something to do with it. No matter. "Clubland" is the one.